Open Letter to Michael Sukkar
Federal MP for Deakin — December 6, 2017
Dear Mr Sukkar,
As I put my two children to bed tonight, I reflected on how I would feel if a foreign power gave me the choice between my freedom and my family. How might you feel? How might your father have felt?
Were we faced with such a Devil’s Alternative, we would surely have to conclude that this power was cruel; interested in promoting our suffering for nothing more than a PR exercise. Any claims from that power to be furthering human flourishing we would hold in the deepest suspicion. You’re from migrant stock yourself — it is a wonderful thing your father was not forced to choose between his freedom and his family. Why must others’ fathers?
I remind you of what you said, in your maiden speech to Parliament:
…this strength in our local community is achieved … from the principles of looking after your neighbour and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
“Looking after your neighbour”. Mr Sukkar, you surely know the origins of that phrase: it’s a paraphrase of the Golden Rule. You must know also the Bible’s exhortation to “love your neighbour as yourself”:
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying,‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Mr Sukkar, you’re a lawyer. Do not be like your counterpart in that story, and ask Jesus “who is my neighbour?” — for Jesus’ reply will sting with the same force it did then.
Later in your speech, you continued:
While faith is a personal matter, my Catholic faith has been a great source of personal strength. It also lays the foundations for my desire to pursue justice for all those suffering injustice and compassion for those who are less fortunate.
Mr Sukkar, how far does your desire extend? To the boundary with the seat of Chisholm? To the edge of Melbourne? To Manus Island or Nauru?
Our treatment of our neighbours is a stain on our national conscience, and I exhort you with the utmost urgency to stop this inhuman behaviour and bring these people here. They bear the glorious image of God just as much as we do — and we will answer to Judgement one day.
May God have mercy on us, and may our government have mercy on them.